You’re constantly looking for ways to add value for members. You want them to receive tangible benefits that make their memberships make sense…it’s what keeps them renewing each year and is vital to the future success of your trade association.
One great option that’s frequently overlooked? Online training courses.
Think about the purpose of your association. Chances are, your members joined to connect and network, but also to gain knowledge and to have access to resources that they would not have without becoming a member.
Benefits of Online Training Courses
In-person training and conference options are great. They allow members to interact and to leave feeling refreshed and renewed. But, they’re also cumbersome. Not only do they require large chunks of time that often require time away from work, they’re also cost-restrictive. This means that either you have to spend money to put on the training, or your members have to pay extra (on top of dues) to attend. It can be a lose-lose situation, no matter how great the information gained may be.
What makes online training courses so great?
- While they can be live, they can also be recorded, for viewing any time (talk about convenience!).
- They’re less costly. Without needing to rent a space, driving long distances and have food for all attendees, you’re freer to put the budget into a great trainer or materials (and it will still be less expensive than an in-person training event).
- They can benefit future members. A future member might not be around for your latest conference. But, being able to show past events they’ll have access to is a great way to make them members today!
The bottom line? Online training doesn’t replace in-person networking, but it’s an excellent option to increase your member benefits!
Making it Happen – Putting it Together
Think an online course is right for you? Time to get to work.
- Pick a Topic. Decide what you’d like to accomplish. What do your members frequently ask you about? What’s a hot topic in your industry? Start here.
- Make an Outline/Break it Down. Online training courses should be easy to take in. This means your attendees probably won’t want to sit in front of their computers for four hours. Find a way to break information down into 20-40 minute segments. Outline what you’d like to share and figure out the best way to break it apart (there’s no reason a course cannot become a series of lessons…in fact, this is preferred!).
- Pick a Software. Online training courses should be easy to take in. This means your attendees probably won’t want to sit in front of their computers for four hours. Find a way to break information down into 20-40 minute segments. Outline what you’d like to share and figure out the best way to break it apart (there’s no reason a course cannot become a series of lessons…in fact, this is preferred!).
- Pick a Software. You decide how you’d like your course to look. If you’d like to stick with a PowerPoint slide and a live webinar, you can stick with just your Social HubSite (where you’ll be able to share your course regardless of the software you select). But, there are other options with templates that you may be interested in. They include:
Explore the various options available and go with what feels right to you.
- Put time into researching your material. If the information you share can be found anywhere, or is of common knowledge to your association members, it provides very little value. Instead, do research, talk to subject experts. Better yet, get them to provide insight and training tidbits for your course. You want your members to WANT to participate in the course you’ll be sharing.
- Pull it all together. Put your course information together and rehearse. You want your training to be professional and worthwhile. This means you should rehearse a few times. Get insight from a few key members before you go live to be sure you’re hitting all the points you need to hit.
It’s easy to put this into 6 steps…but it does take time. The worst thing you can do as an association manager is rush your live or saved training sessions. Remember…Value. Value. Value.
Share your Training!
Depending upon the way you put your course together (whether you’ll be doing an online training session like Social HubSite usually hosts, or whether you’ll be archiving your training to be available at any time or place in the future), the next steps could change. But, regardless of the method you chose, it’s time to share.
Sharing alerts members to your training and provides the draw necessary to get them into your session! Generating buzz is absolutely essential!
- Share in your Social HubSite. This is a given…I mean…it’s what we do! But, your Social HubSite is your centralized online location. It’s where your members come for critical information, that means the best place to start is here. (If you have yet to sign up for Social HubSite…we’ll get to that later!).
- Share on your Site. Your website attracts not only members, but potential future members as well. Share what you have to offer…not the actual course, but the details about what it is and why it matters. It could be what brings an “on the fence” potential member into the fold!
- Create an Email Marketing Campaign. You can’t assume that all members and potential members come to your site regularly. With the distractions that exist out there, it’s more probable that they don’t. But, as long as you have a solid email list, you can still reach them. Send notifications a few weeks out, then the day before for best results.
- Go Social. Just because we advocate an internal social community for your association doesn’t mean we don’t believe in the power of Social Media. Put together a few posts relating to your training and consider “boosting” them to reach a larger audience. Remember, the more potential members learn about the courses you offer, the more likely they are to check things out!
- Use your Biggest Advocates. Your members believe in your association or they wouldn’t have joined in the first place. Be sure you reach out to your key players and ask them to share the information relating to the courses you’ve compiled.
Go Live…Then, Evaluate!
You’ve put in the leg work…good job! Now, it’s time to let your efforts pay off.
Share your training in your HubSite, or host your live session.
Then, gather feedback. Ask members about their thoughts. Ask what information was missing. Consider which questions were asked following your training session.
Put together everything you learned and discuss it with your team. If your training is archived, make changes accordingly.
Then, when it’s time to move forward and put together another training, take the lessons you learned from round one and go for it again!
Training is an obvious value-add for members, therefore, it should be something you consider putting time and resources into. It goes hand in hand with your Social HubSite and could enhance your member experiences!
Ready to get started? Great! The time is now. Need a place to SHARE the information you’ve put together…Social HubSite is the perfect solution. Need to learn more? Set up a discovery call and live demo today! We’d love to help you achieve your association’s goals while moving forward in a productive, positive manner!